Security Alert

Beware: Smishing Scams Impersonating UA Leadership

We want to bring to your attention a concerning trend that has been on the rise recently: smishing scams impersonating UA leadership. “Smishing” is a term used to describe phishing scams that occur via SMS or text messages.

These fraudulent messages may appear to be from President Bell or another university official, and they often aim to deceive recipients into providing personal information, financial details, or access to sensitive university systems.

We want to emphasize that these messages are not legitimate communications from President Bell or any university representative. They are malicious attempts to exploit our community members.

While we urge everyone to remain vigilant, we do not require individuals to report these smishing attempts unless they have already provided sensitive information or access to their devices. However, it is crucial to spread awareness and caution among our community members to prevent falling victim to these scams.

If you receive a suspicious message claiming to be from President Stuart Bell or any other university authority figure, please refrain from clicking on any links or providing any personal information. Instead, you can report these messages to your mobile carrier for further investigation.

Stay Sharp While Using AI 

As AI grows in popularity, staying aware of potential risks and challenges associated with these powerful technologies is essential. 

AI undoubtedly provides significant value to daily tasks and research, but it is crucial to exercise caution and diligence when leveraging AI products. The data input into these tools is often used to train future AI models. The saved data poses a risk of accidental release to external parties querying the same tool you are using or simply as a third-party breach risk. Some tools have lenient privacy or security policies that do not sufficiently protect The University’s data or users’ privacy. 

OIT would like to emphasize a few key considerations when using AI tools: 

Consult OIT for Guidance: 

  • In situations of uncertainty or when navigating the complexities of AI integration, please contact the Office of Information Technology (OIT) for guidance by emailing us at 

Exercise Caution with Your or Someone Else’s Personal Information 

  • Sensitive information should never be entered into AI tools. Examples include your email, CWID, Social Security Number, or medical records. 

Secure Evaluation of Communication Tools 

  • In the case of AI meeting, email, or calendar management tools, use test accounts that lack access to sensitive or restricted information. Third-party tools may utilize meeting recordings or other participant data to train their models or for other purposes, which is why it is important to limit these tools’ access to UA data. 
  • Avoid having meetings where confidential matters are discussed until the tool’s security and privacy features have been thoroughly vetted. 
  • Do not link AI tools to your work email account unless The University has a contract with and is providing that tool. This is crucial to prevent potential breaches of FERPA, HIPAA, and other regulatory requirements. 

Prioritize Software Solutions on OIT’s Website 

  • Before using AI tools online, ensure that The University does not already have a similar solution at 

By sticking to these guidelines, we can proactively avoid or minimize risks associated with AI and keep The University of Alabama safe from cyber attacks or data breaches. Faculty should also consult the guidelines provided by Academic Affairs as a resource. As we collectively strive to leverage the benefits of AI, we must prioritize the security and privacy of our data. 

June 5 Phishing Email

On Monday, June 5, many UA students, faculty and staff received a scam email. The subject of the message could be “Now Hiring for Summer Employment” or a variation related to employment, and it appears to be from a Winthrop University email about “The Dimax Centre for Disability Services Council.” This is not a message from Winthrop or a disability services council and should not be engaged with. If you received this message, please mark it as spam in Outlook. If you have any questions, contact the IT Service Desk at 205-348-5555 or

May 9 Social Media Warning

On Tuesday, May 9, someone who appears to be a former student posted on the Alabama Student Ticket Exchange Facebook page, offering to make a master list for students’ class assignments. Remember to NEVER give out your MyBama login information or CWID to someone on the internet.

OIT to Implement Additional Email Security in January 2023

Beginning in January 2023, OIT will implement new email security features to help students, faculty and staff better recognize phishing emails. These new security measures utilize mailbox intelligence and recognize email user patterns.

Outlook will provide safety tips for inbound mail that comes from new or unusual senders. Below is a screenshot example.

"You don't often get mail from this address."

The mailbox intelligence will also better recognize impersonation attempts. UA students, faculty and staff often receive impersonation phishing emails where messages are sent from addresses similar to a known contact. If a message is marked as an impersonated user, it will be delivered to the recipient’s Junk folder and contain an alert.

Simulated Phishing

This fall, OIT will begin sending simulated phishing emails to UA students, faculty and staff. The simulated phishing emails will imitate real phishing emails to better equip UA community members to recognize phishing attacks. Learn more on the OIT website.

July 18 Phishing Email

On Monday, July 18, many UA students, faculty and staff received a scam email. The subject of the message was “NOTICE BY ADMIN VERIFY YOUR OFFICE 365”. This is not a message from UA or Microsoft Office 365. If you received this message, please mark it as spam in Outlook. If you have any questions, contact the IT Service Desk at 205-348-5555 or

July 18 phishing email

July 16 Phishing Email

On Saturday, July 16, many UA students, faculty and staff received a scam email. The subject of the message was “MEMO FROM HR”. This is not a message from UA Human Resources or Microsoft Office 365. If you received this message, please mark it as spam in Outlook. If you have any questions, contact the IT Service Desk at 205-348-5555 or

Spam message pretending to be UA HR

OIT Security to Install Microsoft Defender

Starting in July, OIT will be transitioning campus machines from McAfee antivirus to Microsoft Defender. OIT will be performing this software update remotely. Faculty and staff may notice a logo change in the toolbar; however, no action is required of end users. If machines are off campus, they will receive the new software when they return to campus or connect to VPN.

If you experience any issues please contact the IT Service Desk at or 205-348-5555.

Alabama.Gov Phishing Scam

OIT Security has been made aware of a phishing attack targeting the Procurement website.

A phishing/scam site has been set up that appears to look like the website. If users were to visit this website and click the “CLICK HERE TO BID” button, it prompts for email login information. This is phishing scam that attempts to steal account credentials. If you receive any email directing you to this website, be sure and mark it as phishing in Outlook. Additional security tips are available on the OIT website. phishing website